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The Better Sunflower e-Newsletter is provided with the support of the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF), Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) & the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).
Date Claimer:  7-9 March 2016 3rd Australian Summer Grains Conference: featuring international and national sunflower presenters: http://australiansummergrains.com.au/. Updates on Facebook or Twitter.

Highlights 
Get organised for the earliest planting date of any summer crop
ASA Committee member and agronomist Paul McIntosh shares his tips on soil temperature and planting: 
It is well into July and our air and soil temperatures are very low throughout Eastern Australia. However on my rounds in the last few days I have observed some old sorghum plants pushing up some green tillers, Urachloa seedlings in a Western Downs fallow job and even the odd volunteer sunflower plant. It does make you speculate how these summer plants trying to grow at this cold time of year have got it so wrong. 

With many regions having large acreages of tap rooted chickpeas planted to access that deep moisture, it is time to consider another tap rooted plant for that deeper moisture usefulness. Sunflowers as we know do develop an impressive root system that can penetrate many of our soil types. What you may not realise is their ability to germinate and grow at considerably lower soil temps than other summer crops. 

 


Landmark Senior Agronomist, Paul McIntosh, says sunflowers in the early stages can handle light frosts. (Photo courtesy Loretta Serafin, DPI NSW)
The first question that needs answering is how do you really ascertain your soil temperatures for the planting date decision to be made? Here is my preferred method and has worked fairly well over many years. 
First, obtain a reasonably accurate soil thermometer and at your potential seeding depth level, insert the shaft of the instrument parallel with the bottom of your seed trench. In other words just, do not stick it in from the surface downwards.
This should be performed at about 8.00 am in morning in quite a few paddock locations. Late in the afternoon another series of tests should be performed and temps noted. Add these numbers together and divide by 2. This will give you an average soil temp for the day. 

So you come up with say a figure of 6 degrees C as an average. Now it just so happens that most of my years of knowledge and research advises that 6.0 degrees C is the minimum soil temperature for sunflowers. Note I said minimum. You also need to take into serious consideration the paddock aspect. For example, it is a given that paddocks having a northern aspect (in other words they have a north face) are going to be warmer due to the sun's direction and intensity. The southern facing ones are going to be in the shade longer without the intensity, so are going to be much cooler parts. Even the rills in the paddock can offer North and South aspects for a major temperature difference. 

Now I am not going to say that one day of testing is the whole answer, so you better be prepared to do this for a few days in advance of the decision to plant. 

My other bit of advice is that if you have to wait a few days extra, that may not be a bad thing as we all know that the longer some seedlings are in cool and wet soil, the more chance of seedling diseases taking hold. Yes, sunflowers in the early stages surprisingly can handle light frosts, however I am addressing the seed imbibing soil moisture and starting the germination and emergence process, which is most delicate of a plant's physiology. Let's face it, a poor or very uneven strike is nothing but trouble from day one.

So get organised for the earliest planting day of any of our summer crops with your sunflowers. Do the usual things of checking adequate soil moisture levels, nutrition levels and consider weed control options. The whole scheme of things is to maximise your mms of moisture into dollars and to do this you need all things, including soil temperatures to be accurate and believable. 

Contact: Paul McIntosh, Senior Agronomist, Landmark on 0429 566 198 or paul.mcintosh@landmark.com.au 
 
Updated Better Sunflowers resources now available
Three of the Better Sunflowers key resources have been updated in recent weeks; Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers, Big Yellow Sunflower Pack and the Better Sunflowers website.

Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers - July 2015 Update
You hopefully noticed the full page insert of the Australian Sunflower Associations Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers in the recent issue of the Australian Cotton and Grains Outlook. This important resource is updated annually with current contacts for known buyers of Australian Sunflower, and includes a quality criteria matrix provided by buyers. This resource is also available via the Better Sunflowers website as a PDF document and as a searchable database.  Both are available under the Marketing tab https://bettersunflowers.com.au/bysp/marketing

For further information contact: Liz Alexander, Coordinator Better Sunflowers, 0429 471 511 or admin@bettersunflowers.com.au
Big Yellow Sunflower Pack The Third Edition of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack (BYSP) was updated in May, just in time for the recent Better Sunflowers Workshop held in Tocal. The BYSP is a key resource of the Australian Sunflower Association's Better Sunflowers Program developed with the assistance of; Australian Oilseeds Federation, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Queensland Government, University of Southern Queensland and NSW Department of Primary Industries.
The BYSP contains recent research, trial work and other newly available information and is also available on the website.

Better Sunflowers Website
The Better Sunflower website has now been updated to include the current versions of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack and the Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers. These key resources are made available electronically on the bettersunflowers.com.au website for benefit of the entire industry.  Keep an eye out for further resources to be updated soon.

Quality the focus at ASA’s Newcastle “Meet Market Requirements” tour 
Ponder this when you enjoy your next TimTam – it’s likely you’re consuming an hydrogenated oil product made from Australian sunflower and processed at Newcastle. This fact was one of many highlights for the 32 individuals who toured Cargill’s Kooragang Island Crush Plant, Oil Refinery and Oil Terminal on Wednesday 27 May. 

Growers and agronomists travelled from as far north as Clermont, Central Queensland and as far south as Swan Hill, Victoria for the Sunflower Industry ‘Meeting Market Requirements’ Tour with generous support from the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC). 

The clear focus for everyone attending was the overriding importance of quality along all parts of value chain.

Attendees at ASA's Newcastle "Meet Market Requirements" Tour. (Photo courtesy Charlie Bell, Tocal, NSW DPI)

Respected speaker Lucky Interissi, is the Technical Services Leader for Cargill and liaises directly with refined oils customers in the Asia Pacific. He told those attending that end users across Asia and Australasia were reformulating their food products to be lower in saturated fat which had generated unprecedented market demand for sunflower oil not seen by Cargill before. 

Growers and agronomists learnt first-hand about the crushing process and the importance of oilseed quality to efficient processing. Nick Ebrill, Plant Manager at Kooragang Island, emphasised the importance of having adequate seed moisture and admixture control at farm. 

These variables really affect the processing performance of the sunflowers through the crush plant and they can also affect the quality of the oil and meal produced,” he explained. 

All speakers reaffirmed that the processing sector was strongly encouraging Australian farmers to grasp the opportunity to grow the sunflower industry, and produce more quality oils to not only meet domestic demand (more than 50% of domestic sunflower production is from imported oils) but also to supply key Asian markets. 

Thanks to the volunteer film crew from DAF Qld, industry members can catch up with the tour participants as they share their learnings and highlights on  or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19e0WVZau_Q

Following the tour, a bus load continued their big day out by attending the first State of Origin game in Sydney – obviously this was enjoyed more by the Queensland contingent than their NSW counterparts! 

The ASA thanks GRDC, Cargill and the many individuals who supported the tour. After receiving such positive feedback received by those attending, the ASA will aim to hold more ‘Meeting Market Requirements’ events in the future. 
Big Yellow Sunflower Pack The Third Edition of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack (BYSP) was updated in May, just in time for the recent Better Sunflowers Workshop held in Tocal. The BYSP is a key resource of the Australian Sunflower Association's Better Sunflowers Program developed with the assistance of; Australian Oilseeds Federation, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Queensland Government, University of Southern Queensland and NSW Department of Primary Industries.
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